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Diabetically Speaking

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Diaversary

32 Things

Today is an important day in Martin World. A day that I look back and reflect on some of my accomplishments.

1. I passed Chemistry in high school. It was the hardest class for me. Tutoring helped. The tutor had a cute daughter. Those last two statements are mostly unrelated.

2. I graduated. Four times. Because once just wasn’t enough. (HS, AA, BS, MS…in case you were wondering.)

3. I was a DJ. On a Christian music radio station. Yeah, I don’t believe that either. But it’s true.

4. I found love. And lost it. And found it. And lost it. And found it again. I’m like a country song.

5. I’ve changed the world. Sort of. I stepped on an ant hill. “World” is relative.

6. I’ve been a President. It’s a lot harder than it looks.

7. I rode my bicycle over 100 miles in one day. Most people have enough sense not to do that.

8. I had dinner with Olivia Wilde. Kind of. She was two tables away from me. I’m still counting it. Can we be friends?

9. I was fired once. They called it a “lay off” because of the recession. Lipstick on a pig.

10. I’ve worked in two libraries so far in my career. I’ve been the token male in both. I’m like a trophy librarian.

11. I’ve been an Apple, an Android, and a PC. I prefer being an Apple.

12. I was voted Most Intelligent in middle school. It was nerdy at the time. Now it’s dead sexy.

13. I grew up on a farm. I delivered a calf. I about had a cow.

14. I had a dog named BJ when I was a kid. I lived on Fifth Street. I’m usually on top of that “What would be your name?” game.

15. I write with Sharpies. People with dry erase boards hate me when I get excited about flowcharts and to-do lists.

16. I worked in a 1-hour photo lab. I got paid to stick my nose in everybody else’s business.

17. I am Jack’s complete lack of surprise. According to the first rule, I can’t talk about this. I do love the movie though.

18. I wear a Mickey Mouse watch. It reminds me that great things start with small ideas.

19. I have jumped out of a perfectly good airplane.

20. I have a tattoo. I’d like to get another one. I just don’t know what yet.

21. I love video games. They are a way that I escape and decompress. I also want my own personal Navi, like in Zelda.

Navi_Hey_Listen

22. I always have more to do than I have time for. In related news, sleep is a nuisance.

23. I like to explore a new city on foot or bike. You see things that you didn’t realize were there. Like celebrities.

24. I love New York, DC, and Seattle.

25. I’ve tried escargot (snails). It’s not my thing.

26. I speak a little bit of Russian. I would like to learn how to speak Spanish. English would also be helpful, some days.

27. I can’t speak in coherent sentences before coffee in the morning.

28. I’ve read every book by Terry Goodkind, Barbara Kingsolver, Tobias Buckell, and John Steinbeck.

29. I have pets that are some of my favorite people. Two dogs and a cat. All spoiled rotten.

30. I have moved nine times in my life so far. Books are very heavy. Save your back, buy an e-reader. And get a library card for Pete’s sake.

31. I gravitate toward leadership roles. Which probably explains why my to-do list is so long.

32. Today is my 32nd diaversary. 32 years with Type 1 Diabetes. Making it this long is nothing short of a big deal. But, as you can see, there is a lot more to me than just diabetes.

Thirty-One to One

I’ve been sitting here trying to reflect on what 31 means to me today. While I’ve got deadlines looming, a busy weekend ahead of birthday celebrations and work every chance that I get, it’s hard for me to devote a lot of attention to the gravity of 31 years with Type 1 diabetes.

Last year, for my 30th Diaversary, I jumped out of an airplane. It was an incredible experience, and I vowed that I would do something just as equally amazing every year for my Diaversary. Living awesome with diabetes is worth celebrating every day, but even more so on the day that you were diagnosed with what was once believed to be a death sentence.

Today, on my 31st Diaversary, my goals are to meet the five (count them…FIVE!)  work deadlines that require my attention. I want to line up some of my blog posts for next week’s Diabetes Blog Week. I need to send some emails, and tie up a few loose ends. I’m hoping to be able to go into this weekend with some semblance of a sense of accomplishment.

Oh, and maybe I’m going to a Star Trek themed Murder Mystery Dinner tonight.

A. Star. Trek. Themed. Murder. Mystery. Dinner.

Make it so, Number One! MAKE IT FRIGGIN’ SO!

Murder... The Next Generation

Also, A-Flizzle had a bobblehead made of me for my 31st Diaversary. I’m already imagining all of the adventures and photo opportunities for me and my bobblehead at Friends For Life this year.

Check out the caption A-Flizzle put on it. She’s pretty swell. Cue “Awww…” aaaaand…ACTION!

Martin Wood Bobblehead Caption

All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my mandatory Diaversary cupcake.

30 Years With Diabetes

Today’s Diabetes Blog Week topic is diabetes bloopers. You know, those things that make you go, “D’Oh!” and facepalm yourself. I’ve had my fair share of diabetes bloopers: Dropping & shattering glass vials of insulin, running off on trips without all of my diabetes supplies, forgetting to dose for a meal, forgetting that I already dosed for a meal, finding the cat playing with rogue pump tubing, catching the dog gnawing on a perfectly good tube of glucose tabs…the list goes on and on.

The blooper that is really on my mind today is the one that my pancreas made 30 years ago when it decided to quit working. Or maybe it was my immune system that decided to work too well. Or maybe it was because I had chicken pox. Or maybe it was because someone got me wet or fed me after midnight. Or maybe it was because a butterfly flapped its wings in China. 30 years after the fact there is so much more we know about diabetes, but what exactly causes it and how to cure it are still not on that list, despite what we were told about how close we were to a cure when we were diagnosed.

Today is a day of celebration, of blessings, thankfulness, and appreciation. I have learned more in my 30 years with diabetes than some people learn in a lifetime. Living with diabetes has taught me so much, and coupled with other life lessons, I would be remiss to not stop for just a moment and appreciate the gifts that I have been given…thanks to diabetes.

The 1st 10 Years

  • If you’re low, anytime is snacktime.
  • Bananas and peanut butter on vanilla wafers is the best snack in the world.
  • You can’t go play when you blood sugar is high. But if you can sneak away when your parents aren’t looking, it’s fair game. The back door doesn’t squeak and make noise like the other ones do.
  • Swimming always makes you go low.
  • Visiting the cute nurses on the Pediatric floor at the hospital when you’re there for lab work is always a treat. They know you by name.
  • When you hear the term “A1C” you think of steak sauce and hamburgers.
  • You don’t know anyone else with diabetes.

The Teenage Years

  • If you’re low, it’s a nuisance, and you have to stop what you’re doing and take a break to feed it. Not always ideal when you’re being paid hourly at a part-time job.
  • Whatever is fast and convenient is the best snack in the world.
  • You hardly notice when your blood sugar is high. Until it makes you feel awful. Then it is all you notice.
  • Swimming still makes you go low.
  • Visiting the cute nurses on the Pediatric floor at the hospital when you’re there for lab work is still a treat. Other floors are acceptable as well, as long as there are cute nurses. You know THEM by name.
  • When you hear the term “A1C,” you also hear words like “goal” and “lower.” Those cute nurses are a good distraction.
  • You’ve heard of other people with diabetes, but you still don’t know anyone that has it.

The Last Ten Years

  • If you’re low, your CGM alarms and you drop everything and treat it. Except when you have low-brain and can’t seem to focus. Then it becomes more of a struggle, and is sometimes followed by a hangLOWver.
  • Cheese, nuts, and other low carb foods are the best snacks in the world.
  • Because you are in better control of your diabetes, you can feel a high blood sugar in the upper 100’s now. 200+ makes you feel like dog’s ass.
  • Swimming still makes you go low, and now you have to replace a pump site when you get done because the sticky doesn’t stay stuck in the water. You are able to ride a bike for over 100 miles in one day. You’ve discovered OTHER activities that have the same effect as swimming on your BG’s, and are just as much fun.
  • Visiting the cute nurses, wherever you can find them, has become a rarity. Now you mostly settle for Helga, the former wrestler with the mustache and gallon sized syringe and harpoon needle to do your lab work. She knows you as a number.
  • When you hear the term “A1C,” you start thinking all about decimal pointed numbers like 5.6 and 6.5.
  • You meet an amazing community of people online and in real life who also have diabetes. You start a blog, and start sharing your life with diabetes. They inspire you.

The Next Ten Years

  • Your diabetes is tightly controlled, and you don’t have any of the complications that others who don’t take their diabetes seriously often suffer from.
  • You’re slim, fit, and eat right so that you’re able to do the things you love and experience the world. You look fantastic naked.
  • You accept that there will always be things that make you go low. You’re prepared for them, and never let diabetes keep you from being able to do anything that you set your mind to.
  • You have a family now, and your diabetes is not the center of the universe, but just a piece that helps explain your awesomeness during bedtime stories.
  • You vow to only have lab work done from cute nurses in the future. You have diabetes, so you deserve it.
  • Your doctor rarely mentions the term “A1C” anymore. He’s more interested in what awesome things you did in the last three months so that he has success stories to share with his other diabetes patients.
  • You continue to write about diabetes, speak about diabetes, advocate for diabetes research and better treatments, and share your world with diabetes. You challenge others to take control of their own diabetes, and cherish those stories of how you inspired someone else to save their own life.

Today, May 11, 2011 is my 30th Diaversary. Thank you all for being such an amazing part of it.

“You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.” — Mae West

 

NYC D-Meetup
Allison, Caroline, me, and Brenda at a May 2011 D-Meetup in New York City

Jumping with Diabetes

I’m turning 30. Well, sort of. Again. On May 11, 2011 I will officially have had Type 1 diabetes and a busted pancreas for three decades. In all my years with this stupid disease, I’ve never celebrated my diabetes anniversary, so I’m making my inaugural celebration a hootenanny.

I could wait until May 11 to celebrate, maybe have a cupcake, create a piece of art, or eat an entire pizza by myself to give diabetes the proverbial pricked middle finger, but I’ve decided to start celebrating a little early. I’ve made it 30 years with diabetes, so I figure I might as well take a month to celebrate it. After all, 30 years of living with diabetes every single day is kind of a big deal. Even one year of living with diabetes every single day is a big deal.

On April 16, I kicked off the first event for my 30th Diaversary celebration by doing something that most people would never consider doing, but that I’ve dreamed of doing for years.

The day started like any other. That is to say, “It was a dark and stormy night…”

It was a dark and stormie nite...

I got up early due to thunderstorms in the area, plus I was too excited to sleep anyway. I took care of the dog and cat, went through our morning routines, then met up with A-Flizzle and a couple of friends for the half hour long drive to a semi-deserted air field in rural north Florida. We might have also stopped at Starbucks so that somebody wouldn’t be cranky because he hadn’t had his morning coffee. Coffee is up there with such necessities as insulin and glucose tabs in my world. We all have our vices.

Fortunately the weather cleared and we arrived at our destination, where the nervousness that I had before was replaced with the excitement of the adventure that I was about to go on.

Skydive Hangar

Skydive Parking

To kick off the celebration of my first ever and 30th Diaversary (and thanks to A-Flizzle for getting it for me for Christmas!), I was going to jump out of a perfectly good airplane at the School of Human Flight. (Feel free to draw your own parallels between skydiving and living with diabetes.)

First, my buddy and I had to watch a training video. The video, circa 1985, starred a short little attorney guy with a beard down to his belly who was an avid skydiver and needed about fifteen minutes to basically tell us that we were taking our lives into our own hands. I do that everyday with diabetes, so not a big deal to me. Skydiving Rumpelstiltskin at Law also shared that they wouldn’t be held liable if we plummeted to our deaths. Considering that I’d probably be more concerned about the ground than anyone’s liability if that were to happen, I took that for what it was worth and signed my life away so that I could get to the fun parts of my adventure.

 

Skydive Training Video
Watching Skydiving Rumpelstiltskin at Law video about how not to die while falling out of an airplane...but if you do, it's not their fault.
Me & A-Flizzle
Me & A-Flizzle

So next we got on-the-ground training from our skydiving instructor. He was a cool guy, with angel wings tattooed on his back, long blonde hair, and A-Flizzle said that he reminded her of Patrick Swayze in Point Break. All I could really think after that comment was, “You mean that dude from the pottery scene in Ghost is going to be strapped to the back of me while skydiving?!” Fortunately, instructor dude was way cool, and even though he had jumped out of an airplane so many times that he had lost count, he was just as excited about my first jump as I was.

Ground Instruction
"You want to make sure you're relaxed, because you're body is going to arch like a banana while we're in freefall. Also, this is going to make for a really awkward looking picture on your blog."

Then we came to the part where we had to put on the jump harness, also known as the apparatus that makes sure I stay securely attached to the instructor who has the parachute while gravity is pulling us toward the earth at 120 miles per hour.

Harness

Harness Dance
Of course, I had to dance while the instructor was getting my buddy's harness ready. It's kinda my thing.
Ready to Skydive
I'm ready!

All straps were securely fastened, and everything was tightened to the point of cutting off circulation. My chariot awaited…

The Jump-Mobile
The Jump-Mobile
Thumbs Up
Thumbs up, sky's the limit!

Now let me tell you, there is absolutely nothing that feels anything remotely close to natural about jumping out of an airplane when you can look out the window of it and see clouds. When the pilot opens the cockpit door, and the cold wind hits you in the face with a hurricane’s force, and the instructor who you hope is securely attached to your harness tells you to step out onto the 12 inch jump platform on the plane’s wheel well, it defies every single instinct you have not to hold on for dear life. You take a deep breath. You find this eerie sense of calm inside where there is no room for panic. You hear the instructor count down “Ready, set, …” And then you jump, and you see the plane fall away into the sky, and you fly.

Skydiving at Jump

Skydive Freefall

Skydive at Chute Open

Parachute

Parachute Landing
That was awesome!

 

Two Thumbs Up
I give skydiving two thumbs up!

Skydiving is the single most exhilarating thing that I have ever done. I can’t wait to go again, and I’m now toying with the idea of getting certified so that I can eventually jump on my own, without an instructor. It takes 25 jumps to get there, so I have a long way to go. However, I’ve conquered three entire decades of diabetes, living a daily life of highs, lows, finger sticks and needle pricks. What’s 24 more jumps out of an airplane?

I’m living proof that if you work hard enough, are just stubborn enough, and absolutely refuse to never give up, there really isn’t anything that you can’t do in this world. Just remember to have fun while you’re doing it!

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